September 16th, Customer Service, NC State, and False Advertising.

I know, I know, it's after midnight. It's not September 16th anywmore.  But, this was going to happen either way. If you don't like the Apple stuff, keep reading.  This post isn't about Apple. I don't usually like to post about my day either, but this is simply necessary.  You get a tootsie roll pop if you make it all the way to the end.  Think of it as a narrative, you'll enjoy it more.

On September 16th, 1985 Steve Jobs was forced out of his leadership role at Apple Computer Inc.

On September 16th, 1997 Steve Jobs came back to Apple Computer Inc.

He was there for seven years, gone for 12, back for 13. Wired has a good article on it here.

Everyone knows I love Apple.  But here is why I love Apple: they care about user experience.  They have a great place to get your computer fixed.  Their customer support is outstanding and always getting better. Play with their devices, you'll know that they care about user experience. I have come to not be able tolerate paying for something and not getting the experience that was designed. Read on.

Let me tell you about MY September 16th.  The day began. My new hard drive for my laptop came in the mail yesterday.  I copied everything over and put it in the machine this morning.  I didn't lose any screws (there were 27 minuscule ones), and the machine booted up (faster than before I might add) after everything went back together.  Huge success.  It really feel almost like a new machine.  I finalized my installation of the beta version of iOS 4.2 on my iPad.  It's awesome.

Today started out well.

I had one class, it went great and then I came home to read some before heading the NC State vs. Cincinnati game here in Raleigh.

Here is how that process works: If you want a parking pass (the stadium is off campus) you have to stand in line at a certain time during the week to get one.  They are free, but not unlimited by any means.  Allie stood in line for about a half an hour for ours.  We had some friends going with us, so they rode in my car.

Now, these parking passes. They're made of cheaper paper type cardboard material.  Not quite as study as card stock...but almost.  They hang from your mirror (or at least they say that you should hang them).  At the bottom of the pass is a perforated section with a coupon for $10 off of Jiffy Lube.

We had done this before. Last game, we tore off the jiffy lube coupon and they directed us into the parking lot.  Traffic sucked but it was no big deal.  To add, last game we were in line and I saw the guy taking the passes, ripping off the coupons, pocketing them, and then sending the people on their way. Not to be outsmarted, this week I tore off my coupon just like I had before.

So we got to the lot.

And I held up the pass.

And the man asked if we had been in yet, I told him no.  He asked where the coupon was.  I showed it to him.  He told me that THEY have to rip it off. I told him that he could have it. He said I'd need to turn around and leave.  I asked him why. He said that they have a policy that they have to rip it off.

Then he said "TURN HIM AROUND!"

I pulled up a little bit to see if I could talk to the other guy about this ridiculousness.

He yelled again, "TURN HIM AROUND!!!!" **I thought we usually referred to inanimate objects as females**

I asked where I was supposed to park.

He shrugged and said, "You need to leave now"

**Let me pause and say that I was trying to hold my temper. I can't stand disrespect. He was beyond rude in his dealing with the situation.**

The parking pass did not say anything ANYWHERE about not ripping off the coupon.  I mean, it's a coupon.  Why wouldn't you rip it off?

I stopped the car, almost got out and pointed out once more that he could have the coupon and that it shouldn't matter.  The fact that I had the coupon meant that I hadn't been there yet.

He told me to leave again.

I complied. But no one in the car was happy.

I went back to try to find parking on the street somewhere.  A long way away, we found half a spot and squeezed the Jeep in. Throughout this endeavor, my loving wife was calling the number on the parking pass which was labeled "Parking Problems? Call 919-***-****"  She yelled pretty extensively.  Evidently they only deal with towing, not parking problems.  Cool.  Hence, false advertising.

As we were walking toward the stadium, I stopped to ask one of the other attendants if they had a manager or boss.  One of the guys laughed and told me they did. I asked if I could speak to them and explained the situation and the frustration. He agreed, if that's going to be a policy, it should explicitly say somewhere that the coupon cannot be torn off.  (It's worth noting that later we found out that they had been returning the coupons to the pass holders.  So....the guy turned us away even though we had a pass because we...ripped it and he didn't get to?) I asked him if he would say something to leadership because the rule is dumb and needs to be explained if its going to be enforced.  We thanked him and walked on. Success.

Followed by failure.  Of course this put us in the stadium after kick off.  this was especially true for me.  I forgot my ticket in the car throughout this entire fiasco.  Allie's had already been scanned, so she went in, got her hand stamped for North End Zone student section (they told her that I could get a North End stamp when I got back).  I walked the 25 minutes back to the car, got my ticket, and walked the 25 minutes back. I got into the stadium, went to get stamped, and...South End Zone.  When we asked why, we got a "sorry, you're out of luck answer, you two will have to sit at different ends."  Real cool.  My ticket was $25 and it was getting to be well worth it.

Experience, experience. In case you were wondering, NC State Football has no customer service line.  No complaints process.  No way to prove that their policies are silly or don't work.  No compassion for any situation from those working.

I blame it all on the guy who wanted desperately to get my coupon for Jiffy Lube.

We ended up walking around the stadium until the guy patrolling the section our friends were in left.  We went up and watched the second half with them.

It was a good game.  But not a good experience.

I hope someone involved with this endeavor reads this. It's hard to please everyone at a situation as big as a college football game broadcast on ESPN. But, generally, GOOD policies and genuine servants who just wish to accomplish their job without pissing anyone off help with this project.

I've done a little customer service as an RA and in my role as a Support Member at Warren Willis camp. It's hard work dealing with people who are on edge. I get that.

But I also believe in pleasing the customer. Because if you please them, they're happy, they'll come back, and your business will succeed.

College football will always be successful. So customer service is obviously not a priority. Obviously.

If you ever work in customer service, try to do better than this guy.  I hate, no, "strongly dislike" him.

He's probably good to go with oil changes for the foreseeable future though.

September 16th, 1985 sucked for Steve Jobs.

September 16th, 2010 ended up sucking for me too.